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Poetry
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A Quiet Pool - on Meditation

 

There’s a hidden pool

at the very centre of it all,

behind the shrubbery

beneath the fallen leaves

and griefs,

beyond our thoughts and thorns

and if we’re still enough

we may sense

it's mirrored surface

reflecting everything.

Do we dare to call this

something other than illusion?

dive inside

disappear

from everyday delusion,

reappearing merely as

ripple on the surface?

Do we have the courage

to let fall the fantasies

to which we desperately cling,

sink into the cool,

let it hold us,

call this real?

Somerset 2023

Book cover - "The Quiet Pool"

 

In addition to the Creative Writing sessions, you're also welcome to take part in a Poetry Workshop.

Here, below, are a few poems from my recent publication: 

 

The Quiet Pool

Among these are explorations into the nature of consciousness and some musings on the atmospheres of places I’ve loved, while others are written from the grief of loss as well as the joys of living. 

 

The poems in this collection are illustrated with images of my sculptures or more recent collages, while a few have been left to simply speak for themselves.

I hope you enjoy them.

 

An Old Tin Box

An old tin box,

rectangular and black.

 

I’d peeped in here before,

when I was small,

a stolen moment in my parents’ bed room,

the box all shiny and exciting.

I remember struggling to get it open

but only found some tattered papers,

brown and curling.

So I locked it quick

and legged it.

 

Now, some fifty five years on, 

I lift and carry it 

as the treasure that it is.

Cool as marble, resonating.

 

It opens without trying.

 

Three generations lie here,

each on a bed of velvet,

documents and letters

and the deeper down I go

the frailer;

edges torn like skin, 

some so delicate they hardly register.

 

Lifting each shallow tray in turn,

I find their birth and death certificates,

one as far back as the 18 hundreds.

And then a letter from my father

on the birth of their first-born,

I remember being told he’d had to walk 

through one of the deepest snow-falls

Leeds had ever seen

to hand this to the matron, 

and then back again,

without having been being invited in.

His words, as dignified as ever,

but with something else as well:

a complete surrender 

to his adoration for the woman

lying in that hospital

with their new bundle.

 

Further down are birthday cards

in childish hand

and celebrations of their 

fifty anniversaries

and then the first of the condolences,

an absence so palpable it chills.

 

And, lastly, 

tucked away

in the corner of the final tray, 

a pot of pills.

Full. Unused.

Instead, she’d waited,

swallowing just losses.

And as I place the final document

before I close the lid,

I add a scattering of ashes.

Dedicated to my mother. 2021

A River-Swim 

 

Entering as guests,

hearts stilled, 

thrilled by the sheer chill of it,

shocked again

at how we had forgotten.

Its silken skin

kissed by offerings

from bowing heads of grasses

skimming pollen

along the snaking green,

to the scatterings of fallen catkins,

while overhead 

a few white, downy feathers swing

from spider’s threads,

dancing in a pulse of sunlight

on the unseen side of trees.

The unseen side of things,

not to be forgotten, 

a symphony of indecipherable messages,

among which, maybe, 

is a “Welcome Home”.

Somerset 2023

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Kayakoy
 

Hazy in the sun

a village swelters

in its pelt of pine.

Secrets steeped in silence

in this ghost town,

locked away within in a century 

of crumbling walls and rust

and blood in dust.

 

Terraced houses 

rise tall, steep,

and fall into the valley,

only grasses stir,

doorways open into hollow rooms

and broken shutters gape now

where the eyes once were.

 

Not even the soft murmurings of bees

disturbs these generations.

Lost, the bright kaleidoscopic chaos

of their laughter  

of their gossiping and confidences

and of all the woven intermingling

of tongues and lives.

And Gods.

 

No colour here now, stones 

bleached white as bone,

except where,

in the spring,

among the grasses

as the hot winds blow,

a sudden splash of crimson

where the poppies grow.

 

 

Turkey 2023, the centenary of Attaturk’s forced eviction

of the Greek population from their homeland in Turkey.

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The Old Town 

 

Layer upon layer

of faces and of fragments 

and of fallen stones.

Marble images 

still vibrant with a life

they share now

with the laughing children

playing in the dust

of this old town.

 

I often walked those streets

passing women, 

still as shadows in their doorways,

darkened carvings, waiting somehow.

And I wondered if, 

beneath their feet,

other women, 

stiller still

and carved from whiter stone

were still waiting to be found.

Bone on marble,

layer upon layer, 

dust on dust.

 

And I remember too

the smiling, crooked man

trundling his cart,

his rounded back, 

his useless bric-a-brack

those tins and bells,

their hollow chimes

echoing medieval times,

reverberating through 

this labyrinthine heart,

pierced by this same light 

through sun-splashed vines,

uniting, as it one day also must,

this gathering of children

with their dust.

 

Rhodes 1996

Plant Shadows

Autumn

 

Now barely visible,

she’s pulled the covers

right up to her chin

and snuggled herself in 

amongst the ferns,

among the ragged ponies 

and the scattered sheep, 

among the softening

greys and mists

as evening twists

through filigrees of trees.

 

Let’s let her sleep.

And when she wakes

perhaps we could be gentler

with her? 

Kinder even?

Somerset 2022

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Stanton Stones

 

Old stones, rose tinged

against a temperamental sky,

pitted, lichen skinned,

holding stillness like a secret,

dignified in a frivolity of light.

 

Some standing tall, some fallen,

some, with shoulder to the wind

now leaning in,

their presence resonating,

long, low draw of bow

across the velvet of a cello string.

 

Here it was we met 

when the world went numb,

you in your bed, 

I with hand on stone

sending messages 

through it's frequency

and those of stars,

dissonant and harmonising,

crossing, crisscrossing 

across this planetary map, 

this place of worship, 

portal, living tomb.

 

And now you’re gone

and here I am again

as wild winds gust,

trying to un-learn

the hopeless yearning

for some pattern that must

drive this vast, 

chaotic accident of dust.

Somerset 2022

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The Garden

 

The garden wakes,

she shakes her secrets from the patchwork dawn

and stretching out a toe into the light,

she hides a yawn.

 

So night dissolves

and slowly dons it’s shadowy disguise,

hiding slyly in the trees,

mimicking their movements 

in the morning breeze.

Re-forming now as shadows, 

they will steadily unfold 

and, bold as brass,

they’ll soon be

stretching languorously

‘cross the lawn.

For now though, they are shy,

like timid children

staring after disappearing 

parents on a station platform.

 

Meanwhile a hundred 

windows wink,

a trail of song is strung out on the air,

sounds of crockery in kitchen sinks

as last night’s life is tidied under stairs.

And all along the street 

different coloured doors are opening

as migrant metal birds 

fly in from everywhere.

 

And so she waits,

content to pose for photos.

And perhaps she knows 

the watching world will not be here for long,

then, all her shifting shadows can

in turn, shake free their day’s disguise 

and rightfully return.

Putney 2020

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